I am always a big proponent of drinking something new. Life is too short to only drink the same cheap pinot grigio your drunk best friend keeps buying for girls night or the interchangeable bottles of cabernet you’ve been buying since you were listening to the Barenaked Ladies’ latest release on cassette. I feel that with every bottle you buy, you have a real opportunity to explore something, or somewhere new. And if you’re going to explore, you might as well ‘by-the-glass’ visit one of my most yearned for travel destinations — the Loire Valley.
It’s really no surprise that I love the Loire. From Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé to cabernet franc-based reds, this region produces the effervescent and expressive wines that I covet. One of the best descriptions I’ve read about Loire wines is that they “become quite fragile with age, decaying gently, like leaves in the rain.” That’s some pretty The Notebook-worthy adoration. If lovely whites and delicate reds (including my beloved gamay) weren’t enough, I’m seriously falling for their fizz. Crémant de Loire is made in the heartland of the valley in the méthode traditionelle. It’s an affordable alternative to Capital-C Champagne and is the perfect sparkling aperitif with hors d’oeuvres, like smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheels.
So it’s perhaps not shocking that when I unloaded a bottle of Chateau du Cleray 2012 Cleray Muscadet Sevre et Maine from the box Madre brought home recently, I immediately locked it in my sights, like a hunter’s laser on a target.
Melon de Bourgogne, was of little interest in mighty Burgundy, but growers in the Loire saw the over-productive variety as a cold-resistant answer to their struggles (which I can relate to, being Canadian). This isn’t a very expressive variety, so it does need special care in the vineyard and attentive winemaking to make it stand out. Luckily, some wineries still see the value in producing it correctly, like the Sauvion family. Château du Cléray has been run by the Sauvion’s since 1935 (that’s longer than superheros have worn a skin-tight costumes or the Hoover Dam or Life Magazine have been in existence, FYI). Today, winemaker Pierre Jean Sauvion is in charge, the 4th generation of family to run the vineyards.
Because of its proximity to the ocean, the region sees more vintage variation than in other areas. Luckily though, 2012 was an excellent vintage for Muscadet, in large part due to sacrifices made by growers. Just ask Richard Hemming, who explains in an article from January on JancisRobinson.com that the main reason for the concentration of flavours was shockingly low yields. “The culprit was the same grim weather conditions that have tainted 2012 as a write-off across Europe, despite the fact that many regions are delighted with the quality,” he writes.
This is definitely one of the top Muscadets available at the LCBO, even if there’s only 14 on the list. It took home bronze at both the Decanter and International Wine Challenge awards, if you’re the type that needs medals to validate success. But even without them, this is downright enjoyable…kinda like listening to this on repeat.
It’s a classy, high acidity wine with great citrus, stone fruit and wet, salty rock aromas. It’s dry and focused on the palate, with fresh green apple flavours, decent length and tons of freshness on the finish. It’ll go down just as easy as that pinot grigio, but with a heck more flavour and appeal. Try it with anything from under the sea, like oysters, mussels in a classic white wine sauce or flaky fish with a brown butter and capers.
Just remember, friends don’t let friends drink crappy pinot grigio. Life’s too short.